English Language: Literacy Issues Faced By Learners And Teachers In UAE

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“Literacy is basically the ability to read, write, learn and application of these abilities in a prolific manner.”


As Kofi Annan said, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a bulwark against poverty and a building block of development” (Annan, 1969)

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Literacy is the ability to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use the information effectively. (Williams, 2010) In other words, literacy is a platform for democratization. It is basically a transport for the promotion of culture and national identity. In general, we can say that it is a basic human right. It is a fruit of life that everyone should enjoy. It makes the world go round in every way possible to produce sound learning results. Literacy is not only limited to reading and writing but makes an individual to share, speak and to do research. Moreover, it makes an individual capable to strengthen the skills by expanded learning which makes them easy to communicate. That’s why literacy has become an indispensable and valuable asset.

English has become a global language and teaching it as foreign and second has increasingly become universal demand. In foreign countries, many textbooks have been published and special institutes have dedicated themselves to training English but these programs still lack to deliver as expected.

Literacy Issues Faced By Young Learners In UAE:

Although tremendous efforts have been made to improve the teaching-learning process of English, EFL programs still fail to deliver as expected and proficiency in English remains inadequate and below expectations. Here we discuss challenges encountered by learners in Arab World countries.

Moving into higher education it is the very essential stage where the learners face hurdles and have to make appropriate decisions like selecting subjects to carry them up to graduation level and also to go through their professional life.

During this time period, many UAE students face problems for not learning English. Observations show the reasons for this lacking are as below:

  • First of all, the reason behind the low English literacy is education in UAE government schools. Majority of Emirati use to study in government schools and are being taught Arabic as it is their mother tongue.
  • The majority of Arabic’s prefer to talk in their native language. They focus on Arabic and like to use it as their means of communication anywhere in the world. This cause problem for the individual to communicate at the international level, learning other skills and many more.
  • Arabs consider English as their third language as Arabic and interlanguage are commonly used. As their reading abilities are at secondary level so they consider their native language as superior. (Shannon, 2003)
  • Students fail to develop their interest in the English language due to outdated methodology. Lack of motivation results in a negative attitude of learners. (Mustafa, 2002)
  • Learners usually focus on dry learning and cramming instead of using their own minds for critical thinking and to do modifications by their own. They do not emphasize on their creative skills.
  • Moreover, lectures given by the teachers are usually based on the single reading strategy that makes the students out of focus. (wurr, 2003)
  • In addition to many above-mentioned issues, one more is that the content under study is sometimes of high level from that level of the learner.

Literacy Issues Faced Teachers In UAE:

Much of the attention has been given to higher level such as conceptual scheme, learner attitude and motivation. As Parren says “Top-down view is intuitively extremely appealing and this view has achieved great popularity in elt”. (paren, 1996)

Although Gulf countries provide luxurious lifestyles, Tax-free salaries and compensation packages. However, it is not all rosy for the teaching professionals. Following are the challenges faced by professionals in UAE:

  • There is a different style of teaching in every Emirate as well as student-teacher interaction. There is inadequate preparation of teachers to pay role for a particular subject.
  • Most of the emirates study in government schools where English is taught as an additional language. Soo majority of students prefer other assignments and curricular activities over English.
  • Also, teachers are said to pay attention to overstate examination rather than central examination and hold up the methodology of one reading strategy.
  • The major problem faced by the teaching profession is the multicultural student base. The majority of the population living in the UAE are ex-pats. So, understanding every student with different background is difficult.
  • Slow learners have no aptitude for learning. They are less attracted to English and focus on other activities. They become impolite and misbehaved so teachers ignore them usually.
  • It is hard for the teachers to deal with such circumstances where students prefer rote learning instead of enhancing their creative writing and learning abilities.
  • Teachers face more problems as that students do not pay attention to the lecture as the context doesn’t appear to be interesting and refreshing to their minds.

How To Overcome Challenges And Improving English Skills:

To overcome the challenges and difficulties following points can be effective:

  • English should be considered as a compulsory subject from primary classes.
  • The majority of the people study in government schools so they should entertain the English language especially spoken as a course so that students find it easier to communicate at international level.
  • Reading culture should be promoted so that the reading skills are flourished.
  • Special concentration should be given by the media either through any means of advancement so that the English language is given attention.
  • As the teacher is a major pillar towards the success they provide a better chance for learning by motivating learner by the advanced curriculum in accordance with class. So, teachers must be well qualified and competent for the specific class and syllabus.
  • Learners-centered activities should be focused in the institutes so all students flow in the same stream irrespective of their caliber. As Race said, teachers should create a thirst for learning. (Race, 1998).
  • Such an environment should be provided in which emphasis is given to both writings as well as reading skills.
  • The material under study in books must be modified with refreshing and interesting text so that it sounds good and exciting to the minds of the learners. High-level difficult and dry topics make them to escape from English as soon as they fail to put their interest on it.


To put in a nutshell, I want to conclude that as English is an international language it should be focused accordingly. Teachers and learners should pay heed to it in the same manner as they give to their native language.


  1. Annan. (1969, December 31). megaessays.com. Retrieved from www.megaessayas.com.
  2. GOSS, B. (1999). Challenges of learning English in Japan. Retrieved from Intercultural STUDIES.
  3. Mustafa. (2002).
  4. paren. (1996).
  5. Race. (1998).
  6. Shannon. (2003).
  7. Williams. (2010). information literacy,megaessays.com. Retrieved from www.megaessays.com.
  8. Wurr, a. (2003).


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